Yes, the New York Times has yet again demonstrated how a governor’s bumbling attempts at a cover-up for his personal aide were as insipid as they were bound to fail, which they did. Whatever. Don’t act surprised. Nobody else is.
Somehow, the Freaknomics guys still have their blog at the Times, but they have yet to create a vertical strictly devoted to their awe-inspiring chronicling of Gov. David Paterson’s various (and legion) mistakes. The kind of out-and-out fumble revealed today is the kind of thing one might only reasonably expect to happen over piss-poor legislative efforts. If our governor can’t even do corruption correctly, what, exactly, can he do? Because this isn’t just sloppy, it’s stupid:
On the night of Feb. 16, with The New York Times preparing an article on the aide, David W. Johnson, Mr. Paterson told his press secretary the key points that needed to be included in a brief statement that was sent to the woman, Mr. Johnson’s former companion, the three people said.
The language that was drafted, according to the people, was sent in an e-mail message to Mr. Johnson’s former companion, Sherr-una Booker, through an intermediary, a woman who was a friend of both Mr. Paterson and Ms. Booker. Ms. Booker refused to go along, telling the mutual friend at one point in the process that she would not participate in “a lie,” according to two people briefed on the exchange.
That smell you just got a whiff of was the lid being opened on a smoking gun. Now all someone has to do is reach in there with a subpoena and grab it. And you can bet they will. One of the more disturbing aspects in this entire affair gets buried at the bottom of the story, as the Times reporters note that Paterson is an advocate of domestic abuse victims’ rights. Besides the unbearably bad psychology behind standing that ground and acting in this manner, it also serves as a great reminder that anyone in a position of authority, with any kind of political extremity in championing a cause can always — always — simply be an effort to overcompensate for darker impulses. Priests who’re supposed to protect children. Anti-gay rhetoric-puking politicians whose love lives get pushed out of the closet. War-on-drugs foot-soldiers whose addictions unravel in the public spotlight. These things happen, and for anyone to be surprised when they do is, at this point, simply naive.